JOSEPH W. BRIDGES. The great plains region of Western Kansas has been a splendid place in which men might improve their fortunes from nothing and in which their energies might flourish and develop and bring those possessions which are the object of every man's ambition. Mr. Joseph W. Bridges of Edwards County came to Kansas from Kentucky. He had practically nothing when he arrived in the state and is now pointed out as one of the fortunate and substantial men of the Lewis community, where he resides retired.
Mr. Bridges was born in Campbell County, Kentucky, August 25, 1855. His parents, L. P. and Sarah (Lipscomb) Bridges, were industrious Kentucky farmers but never made a fortune out of their work. His father was born and reared in Kentucky and died in that state in 1916, at the age of eighty-four. Sarah Lipscomb was born and spent her life in Kentucky and died there in 1876, at the age of forty-seven. Her father, Joseph Lipscomb, came from Virginia. The children of L. P. and Sarah Bridges were Margaret, Joseph W., Angeline, Ida, Emma, Edward and George (who died young).
Mr. Bridges grew up on his father's small farm, had a common school education, and when not yet twenty years of age, on April 4, 1875, he took upon himself the responsibilities of a family. He married Lucy E. Gilson. After his marriage he continued to live in Campbell County for a couple of years, and then sought better opportunities in the Sunflower state.
In March, 1877, Mr. Bridges and his wife came to Wichita. All the money he had was $145. He paid $90 for a yoke of cattle. He also bought a plow, and with this meager equipment as compared with what modern Kansas farmers have to do with, he rented fifty acres near Wichita. From a field of twenty acres plented[sic] to corn he harvested a fairly good crop. He remained in that vicinity three or four years, and had to supplement his individual farm enterprise by work as a harvest hand and at such other labor as could be had. Mr. Bridges had not been long in Kansas when he discovered that the Blue Grass region of Kentucky required a very different sort of agricultural enterprise from what was necessary on the great plains country. There were new problems of climate and soil, and these had to he studied and methods adapted to them, and furthermore different tools were required.
While his fortunes were not altogether unpromising in Kansas, Mr. Bridges returned to Kentucky after four and a half years. A year and a half in his home state proved sufficient and he was again back at the same place near Wichita. In that locality he continued renting until 1886. Then he came into Edwards County and bought a quarter section of unimproved land in Wayne Township. For this 160 acres he paid $425. That was the scene of his real home making. His first house was 14 by 24 feet, a single story, and he had a stable 16 by 20 feet. Having sufficient land of his own he cultivated it instead of working out for others and after some years began to see light ahead. He added and rebuilt until his home farm now has a two-story, eight room, strictly modern house, with running water, electric light, and nearly all the facilities found in the best city homes. He also has two fine barns, one 40 by 48 feet and the other 32 by 36 feet. It is a group of buildings such as would do credit to any Kansas farm.
After nearly twenty years of consecutive farm management Mr. Bridges retired to Lewis in 1903 and now owns two residences in that town. In 1892 he bought another quarter section, this time paying $900 for unimproved land. His land holdings comprise three quarter sections and, conservatively estimated, the prosperity which he has gained in Kansas would be placed at $35,000. He is also a director of the Farmers Elevator, the Edwards County Mutual Telephone Company and the Home State Bank, all at Lewis.
It is Mr. Bridges' testimony that his early knowledge of farming as gained in Kentucky proved of little value to him in Kansas. Many men similarly trained failed in Kansas because they refused to adapt themselves to new circumstances. Mr. Bridges on the other hand was always willing to take advice, especially from those who had clearly demonstrated their success in the new field, and combining his own experience and judgment with what he could learn from others he found himself in time on the secure solid ground of success.
For many years Mr. Bridges has taken an interest in local and county politics. For six years he was a member of the Board of County Commissioners and has also served as township treasurer and as a member of the School Board. Politically he is a democrat. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Lodge and Chapter of Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and has served as past master of the Masonic Lodge and past grand of the Odd Fellows at Lewis, and has been a member of the Grand Lodge in Kansas in both orders. He is active in the Christian church and the Sunday school. Mr. Bridges lost his good wife, who died in Lewis in 1913, at the age of sixty-one. She was a daughter of George H. Gilson of Campbell County, Kentucky. The only living child is Harry L. Bridges, now managing the home farm. Another son, George L., died in childhood. Harry L. married Maude Massie, daughter of John Massie, one of the early settlers of Edwards County. Harry Bridges and wife have two children, Roy and Floyd. Another child, George Triplett, grew up in the home of Joseph W. Bridges from the age of three to the age of fourteen years, when he passed away.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project